Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Afghanistan and the "War Against Terrorism"

by Norman Markowitz

The continuing disaster that is Bush administration foreign policy was highlighted today by the news that more U.S. and NATO forces had died in the war against the Taliban-Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan than at any time since the 2001 invasion.

Although many progressives here opposed it, the war to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had broad international support on many levels and was justified on those levels, when one looks at the brutal clerical fascist nature of the Taliban regime, which women's rights activists alerted the international community to but which meant little to the U.S. and its NATO allies, to the Taliban regime's direct alliance with the Al Qaeda group (the fact that both were in effect creations of the U.S. supported war in Afghanistan against the Communist-led government and its Soviet allies meant little in the post 9/11 period).

But the war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration's "defensible war," has been handled disastrously, as this month's casualty tolls show. The secular government established by the U.S. and its allies has been undermined continually by "former" warlords and others long on the U.S. patronage list. Most of all, the elements of the Pakistani intelligence services and military who did the ground work for the war against the Afghan Communist government in the 1980s and, without any opposition from the U.S. backed the Taliban forces and help them establish a regime (at the time of the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were the only countries which had not broken relations with the Taliban regime because of its horrendous crimes) have received billions in U.S. military and "anti-terrorist aid." At best they have done next to nothing to oust the Taliban Al Qaeda forces from their base areas in Pakistan and, at worst, they have continued to aid these forces with U.S. taxpayers money. The government of Afghanistan has recently accused elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence of plotting to assassinate its president.

As Bush and McCain continue to use classic Big Lie techniques to portray the administration as "strong" and "successful" in fighting a "war against terrorism" Al Qaeda in effect grows more dangerous thanks to their disastrous policies in Iraq and everywhere else. Even a grade school imperialist would realize that Afghanistan is and has always been a far more difficult place to "pacify" than Iraq. The groups that the U.S. and its allies are fighting in Afghanistan are also "protected" by the U.S. supported Pakistani government, much more unified and with a much longer and more effective history of guerrilla-terrorist actions than the groups in Iraq. They have no oil or anything else of real value, of course, except strategic position that they can use for all kinds of dangerous maneuvering against Pakistan, Iran, and former Soviet Republics. Meanwhile, there are reports that the Al Qaeda group is beefing up the right-wing Muslim insurgency against the secular military regime in Algeria.

Nearly seven after the 9/11 attacks and many hundreds of billions spent in the "war against terrorism," this is what the Bush administration has to show for its "war against terrorism" , a Catch-22 record of defeat after defeat and an administration which not only refuses to admit its defeats but has the effrontery to portray them as the model of "strength," and " patriotism"

When Bush ran again in 2004 and waved the flag, I wrote that putting him back in office for his "success" in the "war against terrorism" (which is primarily ,as virtually all serious analysts have
understood for a century, a police rather than a military matter) would be like the British in 1940 putting Neville Chamberlain back in office after the "success" of his pro German, anti-Soviet foreign policy aka appeasement.

That was one year after the invasion of Iraq, Americans were spending a lot less of their disposable income on gasoline, and the national debt was trillions less than in this presidential year.

Today, as McCain as talks of military buildups, new NAFTA's, health care proposals that would sicken people in the rest of the developed world, he has "inherited" the Bush policies and the Bush mantle. He can't get away from it even if he tries (and so far he isn't trying). Senator Obama should begin to expose the deepening economic crisis that Americans understand and that no amount of flag waving and obfuscation can effective deny and connect that economic disaster with the foreign policy disaster since the two are interconnected and the continuation of the latter makes it much more difficult for any administration to organize the resources to deal with the former. So far, the only "war" in which the the Bush administration can say that it has won some victories is the "war" it has fought against labor, working families, and lower income Americans, a "war" that has deepened consumer debt, undermined effective mass purchasing power and made life less secure and harder for the majority of Americans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We disagree, Sean. The Taliban regime was receiving aid from and protecting bin Laden and Al Qaeda along with its alliances with Pakistani based Muslim rightwing groups and the Pakistani government Al Qaeda and its Pakistani friends were the ones with the money. And Pakistan was the Taliban regime's principal ally and backer in the world.
More importantly, the Taliban was like Al Qaeda the fascistic product of the counter-revolutionary war against the revolutionary Communist government in Afghanistan and its Soviet allies in the 1980s
That is the only government in Afghanistan's modern history which was seriously seeking to build a better life for its people, even with its faults.
Your point about the increase in Opium production is I think true, but from my readings the terror that the Taliban carried out against women trying to work to support their families and especially women trying to teach girls to read and write is not a major part of the scene.
The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and if that is certainly true about the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other rightwing religious groups that are allies of the Taliban in the Pakistani border areas. I remember before the 9/11 attacks an interview with a Taliban government official(this was a blip in U.S. news) about the use of a soccer stadium for mass executions. His comment to the reporter was that the country had to use the stadium for the executions because it didn't have the funds for another facility. Soccer was a great game and if the "West" wanted to help Afghanistan, they should fund the building of a new stadium which would be used for soccer while the old one would continue to be used for executions.
The U.S. and its NATO bloc allies are now in a war in Afghanistan against forces it largely created a generation ago and now finds very difficult to destroy, particularly after the invasion of Iraq, which was not defensible on any level, since Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or other right religious formations and was not harboring and/or receiving major financial aid from bin Laden and similar groups.
Norman Markowitz